15 March, 2019

Ever heard of the TMJ?

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the hinge joint connecting the jaw to the skull, located just in front of, and below each ear. It is the most used joint in the human body and perhaps as a consequence, causes a lot of grief. If you feel any dental pain or discomfort, you may want to see a dentist immediately. If it’s your wisdom tooth that’s causing the pain, a wisdom teeth removal procedure may be recommended. Those who are missing a few teeth may also be vulnerable to TMJ and other dental issues, so they should consider getting dental implants. During any dental procedures, rapid palatal expander is used.

As they describe it all here, we use our TMJ for chewing, talking, breathing, yawning, singing and expressing feelings and emotions, including subconscious actions such as teeth clenching and grinding when we sleep.

TMJ dysfunction can arise due to age related wear and tear of the joint; dental disease or dental treatment that can alter the dynamics of the joint function;  jaw or facial injury leading to changes in the structure of the joint ; and even stress or anxiety manifesting as teeth grinding or clenching.

Symptoms of TMJ dysfunction may include:

  • Headaches
  • Facial pain
  • Ear pain
  • Upper neck pain
  • Pain/inability to eat, talk, yawn
  • Ringing or a pulsing sound in the ear (tinnitus)

Treatment of TMJ dysfunction depends on its cause, so for this reason, it is important to accurately diagnosis the origin of symptoms and exclude other potentially serious conditions.

Treatment is often non-invasive , such as  modifying certain behaviours that may be contributing to the symptoms e.g. changing head posture, sleeping position,  stopping nail biting or pen chewing, employing relaxation strategies, and  addressing mental health issues.  A referral to a specialised TMJ physiotherapist who can teach jaw exercises or seeing a dentist who is an expert in everything around dental issues, like Dr. Tina Feng , for the fashioning of a mouth splint at night may also be advised. If needed, medication and surgery can also help treat the symptoms of TMJ dysfunction.

TMJ dysfunction is very common and can cause significant discomfort.  If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, consider consulting a dentist at https://goodridgefamilydentistry.com/ for advice.